Power Stage success offers consolation for Hyundai in Monte-Carlo
Sordo was the highest placed Hyundai driver
Hyundai Motorsport has completed the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in spirited style with Dani Sordo in fourth place and Thierry Neuville dominating the Power Stage.
Sunday’s itinerary was expected to take in a repeat loop of two stages, the 5.5km Luceram – Col St. Roch route and the 21.36km La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava test, with its epic run up to the legendary Col de Turini. Organisers were forced to cancel the penultimate stage (SS16), which made for a thrilling finale, the Power Stage, held in increasingly snowy conditions.
Both Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews showed the full potential of the new Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC with two stage wins out of the three held. It brought to a conclusion a difficult weekend for the team. There are signs of promising performance potential with the new car, which has scored a total of seven wins out of the 15 contested stages this weekend.
Crew Notes: Sordo/Martí (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
The Spanish crew of Dani Sordo and Marc Martí were in competitive form on Sunday morning after a tough rally. They took their first stage win of 2017 in SS14 (Luceram – Col St. Roch) and were second quickest through SS15 (La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava). Just 2.2-seconds separated the #6 crew from their nearest challenger Craig Breen heading into the last stage, so they couldn’t afford any mistakes. A cautious run saw them take fifth in stage – scoring one Power Stage point – and extend their hold on fourth overall.
Sordo said: “It has not been a good rally for us but there have been positive signs for the rest of the season. Today’s opening stages were really enjoyable. The stage win was good for the confidence and we were able to close the gap to Breen. There wasn’t much between us going into the Power Stage but the conditions were really terrible in the mountains. Unbelievable! All we could do was minimise the time loss and thankfully it was enough to hold onto fourth and to score some important Manufacturer points. The team has put in a lot of hard work on our new car and from the speed we showed this morning, it’s definitely competitive. We need to use all of the encouraging aspects of this weekend and look for a better weekend in Sweden.”
Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were the crew to beat for much of the rally until an incident on Saturday’s final stage cost them a hard-fought 50-second lead. The Belgians were determined to bounce back on Sunday, and did so in style winning the final stage by 30 seconds. It took their total stage wins for the weekend to six, and offered some reward in what could have been a triumphant rally.
Neuville said: “We had to put the disappointment of Saturday afternoon behind us, and look to return to form. We definitely did that today. We wanted to push hard in the Power Stage and to pick up some points. When we could see the snow was falling, we knew it would be tricky but thankfully we did enough. It’s a consolation for what we missed out on this weekend. I would like to say thanks to the whole team for a super job. The i20 Coupe WRC is fantastic to drive and offers us genuine promise for the season. We can leave Monte-Carlo in a positive frame of mind and confident in what we can achieve against strong opposition.”
Highs and Lows
For Hyundai Motorsport, Rallye Monte-Carlo has been an event of highs and lows. The debut rally for the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, designed to meet WRC’s new technical regulations, may not have delivered the results the team had hoped for, but it has set a strong foundation for the season ahead.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Monte-Carlo never fails to entertain, but this has been a exciting start to the season. We may not have the result we wanted, but we were able to take something out of the weekend. Both crews performed strongly today, with Dani finishing fourth to take important manufacturer points and Thierry dominating the Power Stage. It’s not easy to fight back after disappointment, so it was important to take two stage wins today. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has shown itself to be a contender this season. We have seen some positive trends from the car’s performance level, which is a reflection on the hard efforts of our team, who have worked tirelessly on this project. It has been a joy to see such global support of WRC. With three different manufacturers inside the top-four in Monte-Carlo, the 2017 season is set to be a classic.”
The next round of the 2017 Championship will see more wintry conditions as teams tackle the snowy stages of Rally Sweden. The second of this year’s 13 WRC events will take place from 9-12 February.
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